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On a recent visit to Italy I found myself in situation regarding train tickets.

I was at Pioltello Limito station on the outskirts of Milan wanting to get to Milan Centrale. There was no ticket office open, no ticket machine to buy tickets and no obvious signage to direct a traveller to buy a ticket.

I was forced to buy a ticket very quickly from the TrenItalia website with only a couple of minutes to spare before the train arrived. I had the luxury of having a smartphone and included data bundle in Europe but not everyone is fortunate to have this.

What is the process to buying tickets when faced with this situation? Could one get on a train without a ticket and not face any repercussions? This is allowed in the UK as some smaller stations to not have ticket machines or a ticket office. You can buy a ticket from the train guard on the train.

It appears to be common in Italy. I was faced with the same situation at another station later in the trip but there was a very poorly written hand made sign pointing travellers to a nearby cafe.

  • You were lucky to buy it... Currently you can buy it until 5 minutes before the train departure, but until last year you could only buy it before 20 minutes... Anyway as the others said, if the machine is broken, the ticket office is closed and there isn't any reseller (usually tobacconist or newsstand) nearby just inform the officer, and you just pay for the ticket. If any of those conditions is not met, you'll have to pay a 5€ fine for trenitalia trains – frarugi87 May 4 '17 at 10:08
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TRENORD Rules for Buying Tickets Onboard

The Limito di Pioltello to Milano Centrale railway section is handled by TRENORD, the regional train company for the northen metropolitan area of Milan. According to their rules (in Italian), you can purchase tickets on the train depending on the situation in which you board. In order to ensure not being considered as travelling without a train ticket thus avoiding having to pay a fine, the traveller should promptly and actively look for the ticketing officer on the train, and ask them to purchase a ticket.

Now, two situations exist:

  1. The station from which one boarded does not have any ticket selling points/facilities AND/OR the ticket office is closed, and the authorised resellers are more than 200m away from the station, and the automatic ticket-vending machines are broken

  2. The station from which one boarded has ticket selling points/facilities AND/OR these are open, and the authorised ticket resellers are less than 200m away from the station AND/OR the automatic ticket-vending machines are functional

If you board a train without a ticket in situation 1, you will not pay any additional fee on top of the price of the train ticket. If you board a train without a ticket in situation 2 you will have to pay a fee, which is computed as three times the value of the lowest class/fare ticket.

However, you are not allowed to board trains without a ticket if you board from a station which has functioning barriers controlling the access to the platforms, properly supervised by authorised personnel. In this case you will be considered as travelling without a ticket and will be fined.

Quoting from the linked TRENORD regulations:

È ammesso l'acquisto del biglietto a bordo treno senza alcuna maggiorazione, nel caso in cui la stazione sia: a. priva di qualsiasi canale di vendita; b. con biglietteria chiusa, con rivendite convenzionate ad una distanza superiore ai 200 metri dalla stazione, ed emettitrici automatiche in modalità self-service non funzionanti.

L'acquisto a bordo dei treni prevede, invece, una maggiorazione suppletiva pari a 3 volte il prezzo del biglietto ordinario di classe e fascia minima in vigore nei casi in cui un passeggero salga da stazione: c. dotata di biglietteria o rivendite di biglietti convenzionate aperte ad una distanza entro i 200 metri dalla stazione; d. dotata di emettitrici automatiche in modalità self-service funzionanti.

Nei suddetti casi il passeggero è obbligato a recarsi prontamente dal personale addetto al controllo per la regolarizzazione, diversamente, verrà sanzionato secondo quanto previsto dalla Sezione dedicata alle Sanzioni (Sezione 5).

Non è ammesso l'acquisto di biglietti a bordo treno nel caso in cui le stazioni siano dotate di varchi di accesso, funzionanti e presenziati da idoneo personale.

Which Tickets Can I Purchase Onboard?

Now, although not all tickets can be purchased on board the train, most of the standard tickets can be. These are:

  • standard ticket
  • 50% reduced standard ticket (youth tarif)
  • 20% reduced standard ticket (senior tarif)
  • single Malpensa Express ticket, both one-way and return
  • ticket for animal transport
  • ticket for bicycle transport

BIGLIETTI ACQUISTABILI

A bordo treno possono essere acquistati esclusivamente i seguenti titoli di viaggio validi per il trasporto ferroviario sul territorio regionale:

  • biglietto ordinario;
  • biglietto ordinario scontato del 50% (tariffa ragazzi);
  • biglietto ordinario scontato del 20% (tariffa anziani);
  • biglietto servizio aeroportuale Malpensa Express di corsa semplice e di andata e ritorno;
  • biglietto per trasporto animali;
  • biglietto per trasporto biciclette.

Not included in this list are:

  • integrated tickets which include multiple means of transportation (say train+bus tickets if applicable)
  • tickets covering the entire metropolitan area (i.e. you can only buy tickets for the train journey you are currently undergoing)
  • any type of pass ticket and multi-journey ticket
  • group tickets
  • titoli di viaggio integrati con altri vettori di trasporto;
  • titoli di viaggio urbani;
  • abbonamenti e biglietti multicorsa;
  • biglietti a tariffa comitiva.

It is important to note that these rules apply to TRENORD. Other railway companies might have different regulations.

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In other stations which are managed by Trenitalia, you can pay an additional fee to buy the ticket on the train (5€). If the station from which you are leaving has no ticket machine and/or office the train manager generally avoids to add this fee to the ticket.

See regulations: https://aiuto.trainline.it/article/362-posso-salire-a-bordo-senza-biglietto-e-farlo-durante-il-viaggio under section "treno regionali"

  • 2
    Hi and welcome. Do you have any references for these claims? – JoErNanO May 3 '17 at 11:37
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    aiuto.trainline.it/article/… under the Section "treno regionali" – Mychele May 3 '17 at 11:47
  • This happened to me a few days ago. Broken machine at station, approached conductor as soon as I entered train and told machine was broken. Told it was 5 euro extra to pay on train no option not to pay it if machine broken or not there. He let me off without paying anything anyway... – Berwyn May 3 '17 at 13:48
  • Actually, after reading Mychele's link, it says I shouldn't have had to pay it anyway – Berwyn May 3 '17 at 13:50
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This is not unique to Italy, such situations are possible (though perhaps less common) in almost every country I have visited. The exact rules differ, but the major points seem to be universal (at least they were the same in France, Germany and Russia):

  • once on board, ask for a ticket on your own initiative, don't wait to be asked to provide one. You risk to be fined in the latter case, even if you couldn't buy the ticket at the station where you got on board.
  • note the name of the station where you boarded. This is often required to determine the price of your ticket, and will help you to defend your case if you are asked why you boarded without one.

Generally, you shouldn't expect reduced fares to be available for purchase on board and expect to pay the full price. Of course, if you're eligible to a reduced fare, it never hurts to ask.

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